Thursday, October 22, 2009

why i love facebook

I have been really sick this week, so I have been spending a lot of time at home. Instead of traveling to the assisted living communities in my portfolio I have stuck close to home, choosing not to infect other associates and residents. My days have followed pretty much the same routine; get up with my husband and get our toddler up and dressed. Drag myself to the kitchen and drink hot peppermint tea while my boys eat breakfast, and then stand in the doorway waving goodbye as they drive off to day care and work. (Note: my husband does the actual "driving off", although my son would be thrilled if we told him it was his turn to drive!)

I then schlep back inside, clean up breakfast, finish my tea, take my medicine... and before I dutifully sit down at my desk to begin my work day, I log on to our kitchen computer. I must get my daily fix of friends and games and old high school photos. I log on to Facebook. Every day, the same routine. Often, the same Facebook posts. The same photos, same 80's hair or same vacation spot. I am amazed at how many friends I have, who do not know each other, who all have a photo of themselves standing on a mountain. It really is a small world.

So I logged on a lot this week, and this is what I learned:

one friend is thinking of her mother, who passed away six years ago.
one friend is trying to convince her husband to buy a mini van to accommodate their rapidly growing family.
one friend feels betrayed.
one friend is keeping his fork because something better is coming along soon. (I love that story!)
one friend has a baby with an ear infection.
one friend is having an up day (days are up and down since the divorce)
one friend has a child with H1N1.
one friend now firmly believes in the healing power of Taco Bell Fire Sauce.
one friend has taught his young daughter the joys of all types of music, ranging from Black Sabbath to Holst.
one friend is speaking out for Autism.
one is taking the last boat ride of the season.
one is dealing with snow.
one is wondering why it takes so long to get a 1970 Ford Mustang back from the garage. (OK, that post was from my husband, but seriously, three weeks is a long time!)

I could go on. And on. And I wonder to myself, why do I like this? Many of these people I had completely lost touch with before crashing back into their worlds via Facebook. Some I had thought about throughout the years, others maybe not so much. But now that I am back in their lives, and they in mine, I realize that I do care.

Before I found this high tech addiction I didn't know how blissfully unaware of the world around me I was. I had no idea that marriages were falling apart, children were ill, loved ones were fighting in Iraq. I didn't know old friends were struggling with infertility, or stuck in the middle between young children and ailing parents. I didn't know how much I didn't know.

But I also didn't know so many good things. I didn't know how many old friends had found God. I didn't know how many had found the love of their life, had beautiful children through adoption, or their dream job. I had no idea how many of my college friends were making a living doing something so far removed from what we studied in school. I had no idea how much I had in common with these people.

I believe in God.
I found the love of my life.
I have a beautiful child through adoption.
My job is not remotely related to what I studied in college.

And then there is the day to day stuff. We are all so much alike. We share so many of the same details of our days. We go to work, we have fun with our kids, we go on dates with our spouses. We hunt for reliable babysitting and the best deals on cars. We research perfect family vacation spots and take our pets to the vet. We share tips on great places to eat, we schedule lunches together and play dates for our little ones. I have even seen vacation plans based on meeting up with an old friend. How amazing is that?

There are many days that I carry the sadness I read with me throughout my day. I will be in the car and find myself thinking about a long lost friend who is hurting. Sometimes I just can't turn it off. And sometimes, during those moments, I think that perhaps my life was a little better before Facebook. But then I think about the other ways I use the application. I talk on nearly daily basis with one of my sisters-in-law. I love that. I am closer to my own sister. I love that. I laugh over my husband's posts and those of my young second cousin and niece. I keep up with the lives of local friends, keeping us close. I have strengthened young friendships and gotten answers to countless questions. I know when it is raining in Seattle and snowing in Denver. I know which friends are stuck in airports and who is expecting twins. And about those friends whose sadness occasionally invades my days - I know I can help each one of them, in some little way. A kind word, a prayer, a joke. I can help. Which, I love. I love these little peaks into others' lives. And by the number of people using Facebook every day, I am guessing that many others like those little glimpse as well. There is a little voyeur in all of us, I suppose.

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